Fresh off the plane back to Melbourne after ten weeks in Germany, we caught up with Tara Keshavarz, BASF’s sponsored student from the Scholarship for Australian- German Student Exchange (SAGSE) program.
When chatting with Tara about her experience living on the other side of the world, the excitement and passion in her voice is obvious. “The confidence that I’ve gained through that experience was so amazing”, she shares. “I think you really build resilience and through all the people you’re meeting and all these environments you’re put in, you form this openness to both new experiences and openness to meeting new people.”
The life Tara lived in Goch, a small town of around 30,000 people near the border of Germany and the Netherlands, was a huge contrast to her normal home life. “I’ve always lived in Melbourne CBD and I’ve always been used to the busy lifestyle so at first moving to a small town was one of the bigger challenges for me. Once you get settled in to it though it’s very calming and it almost has this restorative feeling…it’s so calm and so green and pretty.”
Tara spent her days going to school with her host brother and sister, travelling to different cities in Germany with her fellow SAGSE peers, visiting Christmas markets, getting involved in the local sports club and practicing her German. While at first mastering the local dialect proved to be a challenge, over time Tara noticed huge improvements in her German accent and understanding of colloquial German. “There was a point where I stopped translating and began understanding German and it’s the best,” she shares. “I even had one dream in German which was amazing, I was so shocked when I work up.”
Tara’s advice for other students considering taking part in the exchange is to just go for it. “Be willing to go out of your comfort zone and be open to new experiences because there are so many opportunities to learn about the German culture and people. The whole experience has been so wonderful, and I’ve gotten to make so many friends and connections in Germany and Australia, and I want to thank BASF for this lovely experience.”
Now that she’s back in Melbourne, Tara is studying Biomedicine at Melbourne University. In her spare time she is also undertaking a Diploma in German and plans to volunteer with UN Youth Victoria. Tara also intends to stay involved in SAGSE alumni activities to ensure future students have the same wonderful experience she did. We wish Tara all the best for all her future endeavours!